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TRIP REPORT FOR DUBAI AND MUSCAT

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Still getting over jetlag from the flight back from Dubai although I spent 2 nights in Bangkok - the latter I will not dwell on except to say that I doubted it could go any further down hill but it did manage to do that. One of the most filthy spots on this earth and certainly not worth anyone's time.
Having said that the contrast with Dubai is amazing. This is $$$$$ will a capital $ and it shows in just about everthing and everywhere. I am not able to give an account of hotel accommodation because I was staying with relatives in their home but if the Malls and the houses around are anything to go by the Hotels would be equally great.
Dubai dazzles, and it is an interesting place being that it has a polyglot of nationalities living and working there. I never ever felt unsafe - quite the reverse actually - even when walking around the Old City Souk by myself.
I think because some 800 people are arriving in Dubai to live daily there is little point in suggesting restaurants because in 6 months time there will be another few thousand new restaurants in this city.
I have read some of the trip reports about Bab Al Shams and its Al Hadherrah desert restaurant where some people said that it was a tourist trap or over-rated. This is one place that I went and would go again. It is about 1 hour drive from Dubai in the middle of the desert and built on the lines of an Arabian fort. The outside restaurant serves a magnificent buffet with just about everything you can imagine and cooked to perfection as well. From the lamb on the spit to the freshly " in front of you" baked Arab bread to the shoot with hot crab and vegetables. The floor show was good too. There was a Whirling Dervish who was most amazing and the singers and belly dancer were also excellant. At the back of the restaurant on a hill of sand you could see a line of camels crossing the sand and then perhaps some Arab horsemen. This is for effect and it is to good effect too. If you go there either stay at the hotel or take a taxi from Dubai so that you can drink and also so that you do not have to find the place in the middle of the desert at night. The hotel there is lovely and they run a shuttle from the hotel to the restaurant whenever you want. The cost of the taxi from Dubai was about $35US one way and they will order a taxi for your return one hour before you need it.
There is lot of information on things to see and do in Dubai and of course you must go to the Mall where you can have a little snow skiing or snow boarding before you shop!
The Dhows along the canal are worth seeing as well and the bustle of activity along the waterway is interesting in itself.
The Gold Souk and Spice Souk are a must. Buy some frankensence and other beautiful spices and marvel at the range and the scents.
I spent 4 days in Muscat on this trip which is certainly well worth a visit. You get your visa on arrival at the airport for about $20US. DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT stay at the Golden Oasis Hotel for a number of reasons apart from the fact that it is out of the way and there is nothing around it much. The worst thing was that I failed to read any reviews on this hotel before I booked it and was somewhat annoyed at not getting the room cleaned despite requesting cleaning 3 days in a row, not having more than one towel, no toilet paper, and not being told you have to turn on the water heater.
Worse than that though is what I now believe to be a real con when you check out.
The reason I say it is a con is that everything that happened to me had happened to someone previously in exactly the same way with the same suggestions as to why they were trying to charge me an extra $80US for charges at the hotel i.e. I ordered another bed.... no, I ordered more room service...no, I had extra people and so on and so forth.
Then they try and say that have no idea why you are being charged these extras which are over those that you have signed for. Half an hour was devoted to asking for my passport to be returned and to telling them that their math was dreadful.
Apart from that Muscat is a lovely clean and interesting city. Its Souk is worth visiting because it was build many years ago and you can still see the beautiful wood carved ceiling. There are forts everywhere and of course this was the place the "Sinbad" was supposed to have spent his time. The waters are beautifully clear around this part of the Gulf and the colourful fish worth going snorkling to see at closer range.
Unfortunately I was sick the day my daughter went on her excursion but she enjoyed seeing in and around Muscat and did enjoy the hot springs in the mountains.
Omani restaurants have little rooms where you sit by yourself on the floor to eat and I cannot say that the food was out of this World there except for the beautiful desserts. If you go there check out getting a Dhow for a day or so to sail around some of the islands. This is particularly nice and the waters are enticing in the desert heat even though Muscat seems cooler than Dubai.

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